You’ll often hear the heads of departments or companies refer to their team as the most valuable resource in achieving the group’s mission. This is true for two reasons – what they do and what they know. It’s easy to replace doers but it’s much more difficult filling in what they know. Whether its stakeholder or institutional knowledge, relationships or University protocols, these things are your department’s most at-risk intellectual property. Your patents are protected by law, but what fills the minds of your employees is the reason why leaders say their most valuable resource walks out the door each night.
How Do You Hold Onto This Type of Intellectual Property?
The best way to protect this at-risk information is to ensure your valued employees are motivated and happy. After all, not all of their knowledge can be transcribed into an employee manual. Some is relationship based.
Unless they understand and buy into the mission of your organization with an intense passion, unless their professional needs are met, you will always lose your best and your brightest.
As the tech transfer and commercialization process becomes more sales driven and more about relationship building, a new breed of technology transfer professionals will begin to appear, one that is a lot more mobile. Millennials don’t have the same self-limiting views of what loyalty means. Technology transfer may even see the advent of permanent contract employees, solopreneurs whose services are freelanced to multiple universities or companies.
All of these things place your intellectual property at risk. No, not the patented pieces but the operational knowledge, the connections and relationships your employees have and make, do not reside with you but the employee.
It is now more critical than ever to ensure your most valuable resource – your employees – are challenged, have room for growth on your team or elsewhere within the University, and feel valued.
Without these assurances your intellectual property – the knowledge that they possess – will walk out the door.